Steve Lambke has “a mouth full of trouble,” as he overtly admits in the title track of his fourth solo album, Bone Soldiers. With unrelenting lyrics and playful, raw instrumentation under the solo moniker Baby Eagle, he has managed to release yet another album of great lyrical depth.
This is the first album where Baby Eagle credits his band as the Proud Mothers. A bevy of instrumental experiments is the work of various members from Attack in Black and the Constantines, united here in a sea of guitar strings and drum beats. Steve Lambke is a bit of a veteran on the musical front, himself.
First, he was the frontman for indie-rock, art-punk band the Constantines. Next, he decided to challenge his talents by reaching an entirely new musical community through his country/folk alter-ego, Baby Eagle. His excitement for this opportunity shines through, as he beams, “Now I can write the words to groups of songs that maybe relate to each other [and form] a larger body of work where the songs can kind of converse.” He believes “it starts to feel limiting and I don’t want to limit myself.”
It was in 2007 that Lambke co-founded the label You’ve Changed Records. So far, they’ve put out music by Baby Eagle (with and without the Proud Mothers), as well as by Marine Dreams, The Weather Station and Apollo Ghosts. Bringing his entire musical libido to the table as Baby Eagle, he’s able to plug into this endless creative outlet and electrify the minds of listeners with striking lyrics, zealous vocals, and instrumentation like the backbone to a revolution.
Bone Soldiers picks up the coattails of Baby Eagle’s third album, Dog Weather, which featured a gentle, folk-punk, almost amateur approach to the garage band, and sets it to the wind. As Lambke tells about when he was writing the songs for Dog Weather, “I feel like I was consciously trying to write songs that were maybe about ideas about living in the world rather than trying to describe my own experience.” However, Lambke states, “On Bone Soldiers, it was almost the opposite of that because it was like a cry of the heart. It felt like I was writing songs that I had no control over and they were sort of a lifeline through some bad situations, and that’s the element that feels uncomfortable to me… it’s a radically personal record.”
Soaring like a kite through musical protests and political metaphors, Bone Soldiers creatively relays a sense of unrest amongst the songs. In the opening track, he moans, “Money’s like a crooked tooth, I want to see it smile when I’m buying what’s been discounted for the rot.” Two tracks later, in “Rebel Crimes,” he confesses, “I admit now to the usual crimes: drunk and disorderly behaviour, swaggering in uniform, impersonation of a solider with bullet wounds and faith in duty.” It’s altogether astonishingly poetic in nature and features pieces that could even be read as spoken word. Although Lambke has never performed it as such, he describes his creative process: “I speak [the song] aloud to myself, or at the very least I imagine it, because it’s such an engrained part of the process to me.”
Baby Eagle’s Bone Soldiers is like Lambke’s “acknowledgement of life in these times.” With great artistry, he allows “the songs to be living things and have more than just one thought or one emotion in them, because life is so much richer and more complex, and hopefully, ultimately more beautiful than that.”
Catch the soaring sounds of Baby Eagle & The Proud Mothers when they open for Ladyhawk at Broken City on October 20.
By Amanda Taylor